Update: ‘Lexus sports car with solid-state batteries’ section added.
After launching the Toyota bZ4X this year, Toyota expects to unveil its first mass-produced EV with a solid-state battery by 2025. In 1991, Sony introduced the Lithium-ion battery to the world. This new technology from the Japanese revolutionized the way people use batteries. Three decades later, Toyota and Panasonic hope to introduce the next generation of battery technology for automobiles.
Prime Planet Energy & Solutions
In February 2020, Toyota and Panasonic announced the establishment of a new joint venture company called Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, specializing in automotive prismatic Lithium-ion batteries. The JV company’s business scope includes the development, manufacture, and sales of solid-state batteries and other next-gen automotive batteries.
The two companies established Prime Planet Energy & Solutions in April 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Toyota owns 51% of the JV company, and the remaining ownership is with Panasonic.
Koji Toyoshima, Deputy Chief Officer of Toyota ZEV Factory (Japan), Toyota, confirmed in December 2020 that Toyota and Panasonic are working on solid-state battery technology. These next-gen batteries “generate more power from smaller, light packs” and “recharge much faster than liquid type batteries,” Toyoshima said.
Toyota’s arch-rival Volkswagen Group is also pushing ahead with solid-state battery technology development. The German conglomerate established a joint venture with Stanford University start-up QuantumScape Corporation to accelerate solid-state battery technology. Similarly, Factorial has received investment for the development of solid-state battery from companies such as Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz.
Advantages like higher energy density, lower space requirements, better rapid charging capability, and greater safety make solid-state batteries an attractive option compared to traditional secondary batteries used for electric propulsion.
We expect to introduce the first mass-produced electrified vehicle using a solid state battery in the first half of 2020’s.Koji Toyoshima, Deputy Chief Officer of Toyota ZEV Factory (Japan), on 7 December 2020.
Toyota starts on-road testing of Solid-State Battery
The first on-road registered Toyota prototype using Solid-State Batteries was an LQ. Toyota built it in June 2020 and registered it for on-road use in August 2020, and the video below shows that prototype. The company is hoping to explore this new technology to its fullest extent.
Video Source: YouTube/Toyota Motor Corporation
Toyota has briefly shared its learnings from the development process. The company has said that solid-state batteries could have higher output because of the fast movement of ions within them, but there is an issue of short service life. It needs to continue development, particularly of solid electrolyte materials. The Japanese automaker may use solid-state batteries in its hybrid cars, and may do so before it straps them on to pure electric cars.
With the characteristic of fast ion movements and higher tolerance to heat, we are currently aiming on high output and a shorter charging time. For this reason, we believe focusing on the application to HEV is the fastest way to deliver the product to our customers. However, there are still challenges remaining. For example, longer use will result in creating spaces in the solid electrolyte which leads to deterioration.Masahiko Maeda, Chief Technology Officer, Toyota (Media Briefing on Batteries and Carbon Neutrality – 7 September 2021)
Toyota investing USD 13 billion in batteries
Toyota has said that it will invest JPY 1.5 trillion (approx. USD 13.1 billion) by 2030 for the development and production of batteries. Of the JPY 1.5 trillion, JPY 380 billion (approx. USD 3.3 billion) will go into automotive batteries in the U.S. market.
Toyota wants to sell 8 million electrified vehicles, including 2 million units of BEVs and FCEVs combined, by 2030. If it wants to deliver 8 million xEVs, it will need a battery capacity of 200 GWh, Masamichi Okada, CPO, Toyota, said during an investor briefing on batteries and carbon neutrality on September 7, 2021. While securing 200 GWh of battery capacity, the company intends to reduce the battery cost by 50% as well, Okada added. Masahiko Maeda, CTO, Toyota, confirmed during the same event that the target of introducing the first model with a solid-state battery in the first half of the decade remains unchanged.
Lexus sports car teased with solid-state batteries
Like the mainstream brand Toyota, its luxury sibling Lexus is planning to adopt all solid-state battery (ASSB) technology. On December 14, 2021, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) held a media briefing to outline its EV strategy. President Akio Toyoda revealed a bevy of new EVs at the mega press event, and many of them were Lexus models. One of the future Lexus EVs unveiled that day was the Lexus Electrified Sport concept, a vision of the Lexus LFA successor.
Video Source: YouTube/Lexus JP / レクサス
When briefly discussing the concept version of the Lexus LFA successor, Toyoda said that the Lexus Electrified Sport (in its production version)’s acceleration time (presumably 0-62 mph) will be less than 2 seconds and its range will be over 700 km (435 miles). Further, he revealed that TMC is considering all solid-state batteries for the future electric sports car.
Acceleration time will be in the low 2-second range, cruising range over 700 km, and with the possible use of solid-state batteries in mind, we will aim to create a truly high-performance battery EV.Akio Toyoda, President, President, Toyota Motor Corporation (Media briefing on December 14, 2021)
Featured image: Toyota